Yes, it happens -- even us yoga folk suffer from overwhelm. Today I'm suffering from a particularly bad case of The Big O (overwhelm). Here's what I'm doing to take it down a few notches:
1. The dump -- this past week, I've had so many thoughts swirling around in my head that it feels like I have a swarm of bees up there. I attended a delightful meditation/dharma talk last night and my first 10 minutes of meditation consisted of my noticing how my mind was whirling. I went home home and typed up everything swirling around in my head -- from thoughts to tasks to insights to worries. The relief I felt afterwards was amazing. If I hadn't gotten it all out of my head, I'm sure sleep would have eluded me.
2. Consistency -- I've kept up with my yoga and meditation practice, even though I'm feeling pressed for time. Sometimes it's when you think you need to take things off your schedule that you really need to add things. Or, perhaps I should say -- it's a restructuring of your schedule to include the things that will nourish you and help you to be productive. When I was feeling super pressed for time the other day, I did cut back on the amount of time I meditated, but I didn't skip it altogether.
3. Gut check -- A lot of my mind chatter this week has me "shoulding" myself to death -- I should be doing this, I should be done with that, I should have started this, I should have gotten further with that, blah, blah, blah. I took some deep breaths and then asked myself -- what's really true here? The truth for me is that I've accomplished a whole heck of a lot in the past week and I am extremely proud of one particular accomplishment that I didn't even celebrate because I was so focused on what I wasn't doing. The truth is also that some of the tasks I "need" to complete can wait. I don't need to get everything done ASAP.
4. Breathe deep -- I've been taking a breathing break every 90 minutes or so these past few days. Ujjayi and Alternate Nostril Breathing have been my best friends these past few days.
5. Beware of Inflation -- It's amazing how my brain just loves to turn molehills into mountains. This week I've found myself overestimating the amount of time it will take me to complete a task and then using that as a roadblock to taking action. It goes something like this -- "Oh, it's going to take me 3 hours to get X done. I just don't have that chunk of time right now, so I'll just skip it." Years ago when I wanted to learn Headstand, I didn't just cozy up to a wall and throw myself into the posture. I spent time building strength in my arms and my core and I gradually worked my way into the pose. Same goes for time -- I may not have 3 hours to complete the task, but surely I have 15-20 minutes to do some part of the task. Even if I have 3 partially completed tasks, at least it's something. A little is better than nothing. And I'm finding that taking action -- even small action -- leads to more action.
6. Always take time for Savasana -- Of course when things get busy, the first thing I want to do is cut back on sleep, yoga, meditation, or just plain ole relaxation time. Interestingly enough, it's when things get busy that it's crucial to keep these things in one's daily routine. Yes, it's possible that I could have gotten more done this week if I had spent less time on some of the things I mentioned. Of course by now I'd be fried and probably unable to even spell my name. What good is it to have everything done if you're weary, tired, and stressed out? Heck, I'd say that one's productivity tanks when all rest/rejuvenation time is eliminated. I'm choosing to risk getting less done in order to be happier and more relaxed while doing it all.
And as I'm learning just now as I write this sentence -- you always have time to do what you want to do. Earlier today I was fretting that I wouldn't have time to write a blog post today. Viola -- here it is and I didn't scrimp on my yoga practice or my meditation time. Not bad. Take that, Mind Chatter (the mind chatter that's inflating time and putting the word "should" in front of every thought).
Here's to overcoming overwhelm...and to remembering that it will never be all done and that it's okay to let go!